It’s not uncommon for a modern super-chef to have a restaurant empire spanning all across the globe – a constellation of Michelin stars dotted from Bordeaux to Bahrain and back again. What’s more unusual is for a chef to carve out his own strip of the city in the way that Gregory Marchand has in Paris. Marchand is the king of Rue du Nil. This thin little alley – once among Paris’s more insalubrious corners – is lined with his restaurants, shops and the shops of his suppliers and friends.

There’s his flagship restaurant – the Michelin-star Frenchie – as well as the Frenchie Bar à Vins, Frenchie Caviste (a wine shop), Frenchie to Go (his sandwich bar), his bakery, his chocolate factory, his fishmonger, his butcher and his coffee roaster. The Frenchie name – given to him by his friend and former boss, Jamie Oliver – is a veritable brand in Paris; there’s even one in London’s Covent Garden. But the airy joviality that Frenchie conveys is Marchand all over, in spite of the obstacles he has faced in his rise to prominence.

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An orphan by the age of 12, Marchand turned to cooking as a means of avoiding being picked on in his children’s home, cooking escalopes for his peers in the way his grandmother used to. Realising that he had the knack for it and that cooking would allow him to move anywhere, Marchand enrolled in culinary school, and soon followed his trade around the world – to London, New York, Hong Kong and back to Paris – learning all manner of tricks and techniques in the process. Marchand opened his bistro in 2009 as the only establishment on Rue du Nil, and a decade later, he has made the street his own.

What started as a tiny bistrot where Greg did everything himself (shopping, cooking, washing dishes, answering the phone, taking reservations) – on a shoestring budget in a gritty neighborhood on an alley – has become a destination in its own right. The “alley” is now the world famous rue de Nil street, home to Frenchie restaurant, Frenchie Wine Bar, Frenchie to Go and The Frenchie Wine Shop.

During that time, his food suppliers (Terroirs d’Avenir) also started buying the neighbouring spaces. Instead of calling in an order and waiting a day for delivery, Greg only had to walk next door to the fish shop, farm to table grocer, butcher, bakery and coffee roaster if he needed anything mid-service. That has to be every chef’s dream.

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